Originating from one of only three location on the American west coast, Monterey, Ano Novia and Guydalupe, this tree was imported to New Zealand as seed in the late 1800s. Although at that time it was regarded as being of little value other than a shelter or nurse tree, eventually established itself as New Zealand’s number one plantation timber tree.
This three needle pine recovers quickly after being trimmed or sheared and develops a mature dark green appearance in its third year. They have excellent needle retention if kept standing in water.
When choosing your radiata Christmas tree you should choose one that has mature growth that cover the cut tips, which have a white appearance if trimmed too late in the season. You should also be wary of a tree that has light green immature growth as these tips wilt soon after cutting and no amount of watering will revive them.
Also called the Oregon-pine its native range stretches from central British Columbia to the mountains of central Mexico, a distance of nearly 4500 km. It is one of the worlds most important and valuable timber trees.
It has short needle like leaves approximately 25 to 35 mm long which are soft to the touch and medium to dark green and have a silvery appearance on the under side. They give off a lovely citrus fragrance and have excellent needle retention even if left un-watered. However, watering will greatly enhance its performance.
Sometimes called the Monterey cypress the Macrocarpa is a native of America and is often found in mixed forests with Radiata pines. Outside its natural habitat it cross breeds readily with many other cypresses some of which are in cultervar in New Zealand as forestry and as ornamentals.
It has scale like foliage which during the summer season is a fresh medium green. It does not drop its foliage, does not droop and gives off an amazing fruity fragrance. It will last for a very long period after being cut if stood in water. However, the foliage will dry and turn brown if it remains un-watered and becomes dehydrated.
Port Oxford cedar, as it is sometimes called, is also known in New Zealand as the Lawsoniana and is often seen planted as a hedge. Many a fine hour was spent as a boy climbing through its branches from one end to the other. When left to grow (especially in colder regions) it grows to become a tall and most magnificent tree.
It has dark green fern like foliage which give off a strong aromatic smell. Like the Macrocarpa it holds on to its leaves and shows little sign of drooping.
The Norwegian Spruce, as the name suggests, is a native of central Europe and is commonly used as a Christmas tree in the UK. In my opinion it forms one of the most stately forests I have ever strolled through. With it’s needle covered floors it brings back memories of childhood fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel.
If you originated from the UK and are feeling nostalgic this could be your kind of tree. It has short sharp dark green needles that will pop balloons. When bumped or moved after Christmas it will shed all its needles onto the carpet and for the next two months they will elude the vacuum cleaner. However Christmas thrives on nostalgia and memories.